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Gum Disease - Oral Hygiene

Are you getting “long in the tooth?” Receding gums aren’t just a normal part of getting older. They could be a symptom of periodontal disease, which can lead to mouth pain, infection, and loose teeth.

Gum Disease Symptoms

Periodontal disease is disease of the gums around your teeth. Usually you won’t notice any symptoms at first. As it gets worse, you might notice: 

  • Bleeding, swollen or red gums. Are your gums sore after you floss? Do they bleed? 
  • Bad breath. Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth can be caused by the bacteria trapped in the pockets where your gums are pulling away from your teeth. 
  • Receding gums. If your teeth look longer, your gums are slowly wearing away. 
  • Loose or sensitive teeth. As periodontal disease progresses, the sensitive roots of your teeth are exposed. The tissues that hold your teeth in place are destroyed, and your teeth might feel loose.

If some of these symptoms sound familiar, you need to take action now. The good news is that you can stop periodontal disease from getting worse with good oral hygiene.

[Read more about Gum Disease (Gingivitis) in our Health Encyclopedia.]


The early stage of periodontal disease is called “gingivitis.” With gingivitis, the gums bleed easily and become red and swollen. Simple oral hygiene steps such as regular cleanings by your dentist or dental hygienist, and daily brushing and flossing, can reverse gingivitis and prevent more serious gum disease.


Periodontitis is the more serious, “advanced” form of gum disease. Your gums pull away from your teeth, and bacteria fill the spaces between your teeth and gums. As the disease progresses and the pockets grow deeper, it gets more difficult to clean out the bacteria – even at the dentist’s office. As your body tries to fight off the infection, the toxins released by the bacteria destroy the bone and connective tissues that support your teeth. At this stage, the disease can’t be reversed. The best you can do is to try to keep it from getting worse.

Preventing Periodontal Disease

Brush well twice a day and floss daily to keep plaque and bacteria from building up along your gum line. Don’t smoke, as smoking contributes to gum disease. Diabetes and any other disease that weakens your immune system can also make you more likely to develop gum disease, so make sure your dentist knows about any health conditions you have.

[Read: 5 Steps to Healthy Teeth]

Learn more about Wake Forest Baptist's dental services.

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Last Updated: 10-01-2016
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